02 October 2012

More on the future of Inter-library loan in Canada

October is Library Month in Canada, a prompt to ask how Library and Archives Canada is coming along with their response to budget cuts announced earlier in the year, particularly options for a replacement functionality for inter-library loan (ILL) to become effective on 15 February 2013. LAC promised to explore options with the community this fall.

I'm told there's LAC discussion with major partners on changes that need to be put in place to facilitate sourcing ILL from other Canadian libraries. That's something libraries already do anyway, but with LAC meeting 30 thousand requests a year a more robust system is needed.

Individuals can expect to hear more on how ILL will be handled in November, after Library Month is ended. It will include LAC producing digital microfilms available online from LACs collection of 44 thousand microfilms. Means for making government periodicals available are also being explored. Obviously that will happen over time, but gaps in service can be expected in the interim. Will they persist?

Meanwhile the user community is not silent in the face of this cut, especially those faced with a pricey flight to Ottawa to consult unique materials. B.C. Library Association President June Stockdale has written to Minister James Moore "These budget cuts will result in the erosion of our documentary heritage and our ability to understand ourselves as Canadians." See their most recent posting here.

One of the more creative notions is to ask MPs and senators who have travel budgets that allow them and a "designated traveller" to fly free all over the country to designate a researcher. Wouldn't government MPs or senators who support the elimination of interlibrary loans be more than happy to designate a researcher who needs access to LAC as their designated travellers?

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